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Chestnut Branch Trail to Mount Cammerer is a 11.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Cosby, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Length 11.3 mi Elevation gain 3,520 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Nature trips

Running

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

This is a great year round hike that offers so much for each season. The hike is straight up from Chestnut Branch Trail from the ranger's station. Follow this for 2 miles until you intersect with the AT. Go south (left) on the AT for about 3.3 miles. There are some great resting spots with views along the way. You will reach the MT Cammerer Trail (not Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail) take this trail of .6 miles to reach the tower; there are a few rocky places to navigate. You are allowed to go inside and look around this tower that was completed in 1939 to provide a watchful eye over the mountains. There are many great views in the Smokies but this provides some of the best in the park.

GSMNP 865-436-1200

From Knoxville: I-40 East to Exit 451, turn right at end of exit ramp, go ver bridge and take first left (look close to the right here is where th AT exits GSMNP into NC) continue on this road past the water plant to the rangers station parking is on the left. The Chestnut BranchTraiheadl is just beyond on the right.

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Reviews (77)
Photos (585)
Recordings (63)
Completed (176)
Brian Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 09 2020
HikingRocky

I completed this solo hike on 6-8-20. The Chestnut Branch section borders the creek for the first mile or so, but water is scarce beyond this point so load up. The trip up to the watch tower is steadily uphill as one might expect. The payoff is worth It though, especially on a clear day. There are at least two other overlooks on the AT as you approach the Mt. Cammerer side trail. Up top, the rhododendron is now at near full bloom which makes for even better scenery. As a side trip, I took the 2.1 mile trip down to the Low Gap trailhead which was punishment for my legs to come back up. I needed this section to close a gap in my AT travels. All in all, I would recommend the Mt. Cammerer Trail (skip the Low Gap side trip!).

Julie Mobley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jun 04 2020
HikingRocky

This is a difficult hike, but it is worth it to get to the top. I gave it 4 stars because there are no views until the top. It is all through shady forest.

View Julie's Recording
keith Haha
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat May 30 2020

The view worth all of the 3500 feet climb, it is a brutal continuous up hill with not much of relieve. You will average about 500' climb per mile for 6 miles straight until you reach the tower. Be alert as our group run into 2 rattler on the trail. 1 was not very happy we were there.

Jason Controy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri May 15 2020
Hiking

The AllTrails map displayed when I hiked was incorrect. It stopped at the last fork in the trail, versus extending all the way to the Lookout Tower. I mapped 12.2 miles. Great hike and spectacular views.

View Jason's Recording
Rosella McGilsky
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jan 11 2020

This a beautiful hike up to Mt. Crammerer. I took the one from the Crosby campground and it has nothing on this route. The first 2 miles before you hook into the AT follows a beautiful creek.

katie west
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Oct 31 2019
HikingMuddySnow

The top was worth the view. I did an one night (stayed at a shelter off AT) and then went to the peak next day. Very worth it, but it is pretty non stop up, however it’s gradual.

View katie's Recording
Josh VANMETER
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 19 2019
Hiking

One of my favorite hikes in the park. I left at 4:30am and barely made it in time for sunrise at the fire tower. Pretty spectacular

View Josh's Recording
Jerome Asselin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 26 2019
Hiking

Montée constante vers un point de vue très impressionnant ( tour d’observation). La presque totalité de la montée est constante avec 2km plus rocailleux avant de prendre l’embranchement pour le mont Cammerrer. Attention ! Il manque environ une portion de 2km sur le tracée AllTrail pour atteindre le sommet. Nous avons calculé 18,5 km aller-retour pour cette randonnée. Vue à couper le souffle au sommet et superbe vue pour luncher !

View Jerome's Recording
Chad Powers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jun 05 2019
BackpackingBugsRocky

Wow. Great trail! Pushed myself up and back. Felt it on trek back down. Great views at lookout, and ran into black bear on AT. Great day overall! Loved this trail!

ddh928 ddh928
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Apr 12 2019

We picked up Chestnut Trail at the Big Creek ranger station. Loved how the trail borders the creek! The hike on Chestnut Trail isn't terribly difficult but it is a steady incline. And then you meet the AT. A bit more difficult, a bit more incline. The entire trail had alot of mud but when we turned off the AT onto Mt. Cammerer Trail, the real mud started. Be prepared for a very muddy finish up to the fire tower. The fire tower is impressive and the views are breathtaking. Makes you forget about all the up hill and mud you just came through...and then you go back through it going down. But the view from the top is worth it!

Rebekah Havrilla
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Nov 19 2018
Hiking

It was super saturated so there were a ton of little streams and micro waterfalls that you don’t always get to experience this time of year. The leaves were pretty treacherous tho being both wet and slippery. The views get better as you go especially with the foliage almost gone. There’s also very few people on this trail to bump into so if you like solitude, this could work for you.

Galen Godbey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Nov 02 2018

10/31/18 - Lots of forest walking and steady climbing until you reach the Mt Cammerer trail. The leaves were as close to peak as I could’ve hoped and weather was perfect. Just shy of 2:30 on the climb from the ranger station to the tower and I rushed return trip in 1:27 (with a bit of double-stepping). The views were incredible and worth the fasted effort. GPS clocked total distance at 11.5 miles.

Lori Yankowski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Apr 08 2018

it was a beautiful hike first couple of miles are straight up great for the heart rate!!! really a wonderful all around hike!!!

Ray Tant
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed May 24 2017

I have only done this from top down. Both times I came up from the Low Gap trail to the AT, each side of Low Gap. Once in the snow and the other in the rain. The mileage is off due to it not including the out and back to the fire tower. The trail distance is to the fire tower trailhead, It is about 1 1/2 miles round trip. Definitely worth it.

Eric Stanfield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Mar 20 2017
Backpacking

Challenging hike, and be very aware of water availability before you begin. I backpacked up this the last week of September in brutal heat/humidity during the drought that preceded the Gatlinburg fires and really paid for not carrying enough water. It's just shy of three miles to the tower, with no break in the elevation gain to speak of. A couple glimpses of pretty views along the way, but mainly trudging through the trees until the big payoff at the tower itself.

Jeff Darling
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Dec 17 2016
Hiking

Great hike! But no way is it 10.4 miles round trip. Try 12 miles up and back. The NPS trail signs add up to 6 miles one way. My iPhone health tracker said 13 miles round trip. Believe the NPS signage. Outstanding views when you get to the Mt Cammerer FireTower - if it's a clear day (posted photos). Some views on hike up the trail, but nothing like those from that fire tower. Inspirational to see that old structure built wth stones hewn from the surrounding rock bed. Those guys on the old CCC crew worked very hard on this one. I've gone up to this fire tower two other times using the Low Gap trail from Cosby and on the other side of the mountain using Low Gap Trail from the Big Creek Campground in GSMtns NP. Chestnut Branch is the best way, though longer than Low Gap from Cosby.

Outside Therapy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Oct 30 2016
Hiking

Nice trail not a lot of views #outsidetherapy

Christina Zukas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Oct 28 2016
Hiking

**Facilities at the Big Creek Ranger Station parking lot** Did this hike on October 20, 2016. This hike is no joke. It's strenuous, no way of getting around it. The 2.1 miles up to the Chestnut Branch/Davenport Gap junction starts out challenging, but the challenge is quickly amped up during the last mile. The Lower Mt. Cammerer trail is the AT...keep that in mind...the AT is barely forgiving, and thus is true of the remaining 4ish miles to the last 0.6 miles to the tower. There are no "flat spots", to keep walking while catching your breath. If you need a break, just take one. It's a beautiful hike, nonetheless, and the last spur to the tower is the best part, in my opinion. We lucked out and had a GORGEOUS day of clear skies and complete 360 degree views. There are many spots on the boulders to rest your legs, and eat a snack, while allowing others to enjoy the views from the tower deck. The only animal activity we saw was an approximately 500 pound bear, right before we ended out trek on the Chestnut Branch. It was far enough away from the trail, where we all could enjoy our encounter, and not be too close. We quietly watched, and the bear couldn't have cared less. A great end to our day!!

Jerry Ellsworth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Oct 09 2016
Hiking

This was a fun hike in a beautiful area. The fire tower on Mt Cammerer was unique and scenic as well. On the day we hiked, it poured rain most of the day, however, and the views were all hidden by the dense fog. I'll be sure to come back again on a clearer day!

Jennifer DeSimone Mesk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 10 2016
Hiking

We did this trail yesterday. Wow! It's no joke. The first section is very steep. What an exciting hike! Let's see...30 minutes into the hike my husband sees a bear about 10 yards in front of him on the trail. I'm oblivious as I was watching my step (the whole hike was uphill then down) I hear him say something, I ask what and he replies, 'There's a bear, keep walking.' He said the bear looked at him and then lumbered off the trail, uphill. I tried to look as I went past but I wanted to get away from it. So then not 20 minutes later he says, 'Run! There are hornets on the trail.' I look up and sure enough, there they are. Yikes! So glad he's so observant! The hike was the most difficult we've done so far. The hiking time was 6:40min. 4 hours up and 2:40 down. That doesn't include the hour we spent at the tower. My ankles are screaming at me. The fire tower is beautiful, built by the CCC, the view is amazing. We saw a shrew(so cute), a slug, a frog and then on the way down....a rattlesnake!!! It was right off the trail slithering away from us. Of course my husband spotted it. It was so beautiful and looked like velvet. We stood about 10 ft away just watching. It didn't even rattle, so we felt OK. He was just doing his thing, didn't even care we were there. Amazing!!! Today my feet are doing well, but all of my joints are screaming at me. Trekking poles are a must. We hike all the time and this was doable but challenging. Coming down the AT was wonderful but it got real after that. Would I do it again? Probably not. But I'm so glad we did! The fire tower was amazing! The hike was beautiful. Do it! You won't regret it! I gave it 5 stars.

Micajah Spoden
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 23 2016
Hiking

Magnificent

Sandy Pierce
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed May 25 2016

Nice trail. Just fyi, no dogs are allowed on any trails in the Great Smoky National Forest.

Rob Wagner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat May 14 2016

Tough

Helen Rosko
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Dec 15 2015
Hiking

About 12 miles out and back with all trails combined (Low Gap Trail to - AT - Mt. Cammerer trail). ~3,000 elevation change, took me 4 hours to summit and come back that includes about a 20-30 minute break at the fire tower. The first 2.9 miles are pretty steep and rough to get up. Then once you hit the AT there is a bit more climbing but much more relaxed as you are basically hiking the ridge. The last 2 miles are pleasant on top of the ridge with nice balds every once in awhile and rhododendron. The view is amazing, best I've seen in the Smokies so far. A treat of a hike, and leaves you feeling nice and worked out! #solohikes

Kayla Nicole
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarThu Nov 12 2015
Hiking

Was not most enjoyable hike, however view is my favorite in the smokies

Pat Helms
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Nov 05 2015

You'll find the trail-head located just past the parking lot of Big Creek Ranger Station. Its starts steep, but soon levels out to a very manageable climb up to the AT, sans a brisk switchback here and there. The 3.3 mile workout on the AT up to the Cammerer Trail is rewarded by a beautiful ridge line hike - sandwiched between two very nice overlooks facing the east, while Cammerer's craggy head looks down on you from above. Returning from the Cammerer Trail, the perspective views back down the AT are even better than going up!

Mark Booher
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 02 2015
Hiking

Excellent views and a unique 'west-coast' style fire tower. This is a very intense hike so be prepared!

Chadwick Conner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Apr 25 2014
Hiking

This is a great hike with one of the best views has 360 degree panoramic view can see Mt Sterling fire tower, I40, and NC. Their is plenty of water at the base of trail but ounce past the first mile their is no water plan accordingly, Trail is steep and rocky in parts. The last .6 of the AT is very easy.

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